State v. Hyde

Citation186 Ariz. 252,921 P.2d 655
Decision Date09 July 1996
Docket NumberNo. CR-92-0289-AP,CR-92-0289-AP
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. David O'Neal HYDE, Appellant.
CourtSupreme Court of Arizona

[186 Ariz. 258] Grant Woods, Attorney General, Phoenix by Paul J. McMurdie, Chief Counsel Criminal

[186 Ariz. 259] Appeals Section, Kent E. Cattani, Assistant Attorney General, for Appellee

Dean W. Trebesch, Maricopa County Public Defender by Paul J. Prato, Deputy Public Defender, Phoenix, for Appellant.


ROBERT J. CORCORAN, Justice (Retired).

David O'Neal Hyde (defendant) was convicted on two counts of first degree premeditated murder and one count of first degree burglary. Judge John H. Seidel sentenced defendant to death on each of the first degree murder convictions and to an aggravated 15-year sentence on the burglary conviction. All sentences were to run consecutively. This is an automatic appeal of the convictions and sentences, pursuant to Rules 26.15 and 31.2, Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. We have jurisdiction pursuant to Ariz. Const. art. VI, § 5(3), and A.R.S. § 13-4031. We affirm defendant's convictions and sentences.


John Lee, Sr. and his daughter, Ginger, were murdered at the Joyland Market in Phoenix on March 8, 1991. John Lee had owned and operated the Joyland Market since 1943. Ginger, an elementary school teacher, often helped out in the evenings. Depending on the amount of evening business, the market usually closed between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Family members discovered the victims' bodies about 11:15 p.m. the night of March 8. Lee was 74 when he died. Ginger was 50.

Both victims sustained multiple lacerations and bruising and died as a result of blunt force injuries to the head. A blood spatter expert testified at trial that one person inflicted the fatal wounds to both victims. According to the medical examiner's testimony, if a wound was "consistent with" a certain object, then that object could not be scientifically excluded as the source of the wound. The medical examiner testified that the lacerations were consistent with a blunt, sharp instrument, such as an ax, cleaver, or long knife, and that the blunt force wounds were consistent with a pipe or with the hilt of a knife. Specifically, both the lacerations and the blunt force wounds were consistent with the blade and/or hilt of a Bowie knife with a 10"' blade. The wounds were not consistent with any of the heavy knives that were in the store, nor were any heavy knives obviously missing from the store.

A large Bowie knife was found in defendant's possession when he was arrested. Although no physical evidence directly linked defendant to the scene of the murders (the police discovered 7 latent fingerprints at the scene, none of which were identifiable), a towel found at the scene contained a blood swipe consistent with the blade of a knife.

Other than in the immediate area inside the Joyland Market where each body was discovered, there was no evidence of a struggle. There was, however, some evidence that a theft had occurred on the premises. A receipt found in the cash register showed that someone had rung up many items but had not totalled them. Additionally, neither the cash register drawer nor Lee's pockets, in which he usually carried several hundred dollars, contained any paper money, and Ginger's purse was missing.

About March 4, defendant and his half-brother, Jake Johnson, moved from Mesa to their parents' home near the Joyland Market in Phoenix. On March 6, defendant informed his ex-wife that he and Jake planned to move to Wichita, Kansas, on March 9. Consequently, his ex-wife allowed defendant to keep their son until March 9. On March 8, however, defendant called his ex-wife to say that he wanted to return their son early because defendant and Jake would be leaving for Wichita that evening. Around 6:00 p.m. on March 8, defendant left his parents' home and went to his ex-wife's house in Mesa, arriving around 6:30 p.m. He stayed for approximately 35 minutes.

A mutual friend of defendant and Jake testified at trial that the two brothers came to his house in separate vehicles around dusk on March 8. Defendant drove a light blue Buick, and Jake drove a dark green International Travel-All. Jake was wearing a plaid shirt, defendant was wearing a black jacket,

[186 Ariz. 260] and both men wore tennis shoes. Defendant and Jake stayed at the friend's house for only 5 to 7 minutes then left in the blue Buick, leaving the Travel-All behind. Jake returned about an hour and a half later but again stayed for only a few minutes

Defendant's mother testified that defendant and Jake arrived at her home between 8:05 and 8:20 p.m., watched a movie until around 9:45 p.m., then left, apparently for Wichita, with most of their possessions in the Travel-All. The mutual friend testified, however, that around midnight defendant and Jake returned again to his house, the three men then went to shoot pool until about 2:30 a.m., and neither defendant nor Jake mentioned leaving for Wichita.

The next day, March 9, defendant and Jake returned to their parents' house between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. The evening of March 10, they finally left for Wichita, travelling in their two vehicles. They arrived on March 12 and stayed with a local couple and the couple's two young children.

On March 10, an anonymous informant told the Phoenix police by telephone that Jake and an African-American man named Kevin were involved in the murders. Police canvassed the area near the store and obtained a description of Jake as a caucasian male whose parents lived in the neighborhood. Kevin contacted the Phoenix police later that evening and consented to a police search of his bungalow. The state apparently did not charge Kevin in relation to these events.

On March 11, police learned that a married couple who lived in a trailer park near the Joyland Market (trailer park witnesses) claimed to have seen two white men near the Joyland Market at approximately 7:15 p.m. on the evening of March 8. According to these witnesses, one man was taller than the other. The taller man was 20 to 25 years old, 5'8"' to 5'10"' tall, very slender at 125 to 130 pounds, of medium complexion, had dark brown shoulder-length curly hair, was clean-shaven, and was wearing a dark blue jacket. The witnesses described the other man as between 40 and 50 years old, 5'10"', 160 pounds, light-skinned, with red curly hair, and as wearing a black and red flannel shirt.

Jake generally fit the second description, except he was only 23 years old. Defendant, however, did not match the first description. After he was arrested, defendant described himself as 6'0"' or 6'1"', 28 years old, weighing 160 to 162 pounds, and he had long brown hair, a beard, and a mustache.

On March 13, officers learned from an interview with defendant and Jake's former roommate that the brothers had moved to Wichita on March 10. The Phoenix police requested corroborating information from the Wichita police, who discovered that Jake was a suspect in several Wichita misdemeanor assaults. On March 15, the lead investigating detective in Phoenix again contacted the trailer park witnesses and separately showed them two photographs, one of defendant and one of Jake. While showing defendant's photograph, the detective placed his thumb over defendant's beard in the photograph because the female witness described a man with no facial hair. The female witness identified both Jake and defendant, and the police then focused their investigation on the two brothers.

The Phoenix police later informed the Wichita police that they expected to obtain arrest warrants for both Jake and defendant in connection with a car robbery and assault. We set forth the facts relating to the car robbery and arrest warrant infra Part I. About 6:00 p.m. Phoenix time on March 15, a Phoenix police officer informed the Wichita police that the warrants were available on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center data system.

Around 9:00 p.m. Phoenix time, Wichita police located the Travel-All. They planned to wait through the night and to arrest defendant and Jake the next morning, but in the early morning hours of March 16 defendant and one of their hosts left the hosts' house in defendant's car. Wichita police officers followed them, and a few minutes later the detective in charge of the surveillance team ordered the tailing officers to make a routine traffic stop to determine who was in the vehicle. About 3:15 a.m. Phoenix time, Wichita police arrested defendant in his car.

[186 Ariz. 261] The Wichita police later arrested Jake inside the hosts' house. Police then obtained consent from one of the hosts to search their home and to seize defendant's and Jake's possessions, resulting in seizure of various clothing items from the residence. In addition, the police impounded each brother's vehicle.

On March 17, with two Phoenix police detectives observing, Wichita police conducted an inventory search of each car. On the back seat of the blue Buick, the police found a black jacket that a trial witness later identified as the same jacket that defendant had worn the night of the murders. In the Travel-All, police found a Bowie knife with a 7"'-8"' blade in a box with other debris. In addition, police found plaid shirts.

Police also conducted a luminol test in the blue Buick, which was positive for blood on the driver's side of the front seat. 1 A forensic chemist later conducted a benzidine test for blood on the front and back seats of the Buick and on some of the clothing seized at the hosts' residence. As a result of the luminol test, the police had cut some material from the front seat where they found a small amount of blood. The benzidine test on this material did not reveal the age of the blood or whether it was human or animal. A black down jacket also had a blood smear across the front and on the right sleeve, and the...

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